Entrance exams for overseas study

Entrance exams for overseas study
Standardized Tests

Entrance exams for overseas study


Entrance exams for pursuing overseas education

Overseas education is gaining a lot of prominence and it caters to students of varied academic backgrounds and interests. However, there are certain prerequisites that need to be met in order to gain admission into an overseas university.

The top entrance exams for overseas study

Some of the most popular and important international entrance exams for study abroad include GRE, GMAT, SAT, TOEFL, IELTS and PTE.  Students may be required to give a combination of one or more exams which may be unique to that country and its education system.

Given below is a brief introduction to the various entrance exams for Masters abroad and respective paper formats:

  1. GRE: 

The Graduate Record Examination, a standardized test, is a prerequisite for gaining admission into a majority of graduate schools in the United States.  It was created as well as administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in 1949. GRE aims to test verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking skills of students developed over a period of time. Students who wish to pursue a master’s degree or want to study a specialized master’s course – MBA, MEM, MS or a doctoral degree – can give the GRE Test. The computer-based GRE revised general test consists of five sections. The first section of the test is the analytical writing section, which consists of Issue and Argument tasks. The other five sections have two verbal reasoning sections, two quantitative reasoning sections, and either an experimental or a research section.

  1. GMAT: 

The Graduate Management Admission Test, commonly known as the GMAT, is a computer-based examination used to measure skills that are necessary for the study of management. Its duration is 3.5 hours, and it is designed to predict how students will perform academically in MBA programs. Based on the GMAT scores, graduate business schools make admission decisions. Several schools require GMAT scores from applicants; therefore, preparing well for the test is important. The GMAT score is vital as it can be the deciding factor regarding one’s acceptance or rejection to a program. The GMAT tests four major skills – analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and integrated reasoning.  These skills are analyzed through the following four sections:

  1. Analytical Writing Assessment (one writing task, with a duration of 30 minutes)
  2. Integrated Reasoning section (12 multiple-choice questions, with a duration of 30 minutes)
  3. Quantitative section (37 multiple-choice questions, with a duration of 75 minutes)
  4. Verbal section (41 multiple-choice questions, with a duration of 75 minutes)

A separate score and percentile rank are provided for all the exam sections mentioned above.

  1. SAT: 

The SAT is a standardized and general test of verbal and quantitative reasoning which is required by many US colleges and universities as part of their admission process. Originally, it was called the Scholastic Aptitude Test. Now, it is known as SAT. The duration of the test is three hours, and it measures the verbal and mathematical reasoning skills developed over time. Many colleges and universities use the SAT as one of the admission criteria among others such as class rank, GPA, participation in extracurricular activities, personal essay and letters of recommendation.

SAT consists of two different examinations:

  • The SAT Reasoning Test (Earlier known as SAT I)
  • The SAT Subject Test (Earlier known as SAT II)

The SAT Reasoning Test is a three-hour and forty-five-minute test, which comprises of three sections: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. This test is designed to measure one’s critical thinking and analytical skills. The SAT Subject Tests are a series of one-hour multiple-choice tests in subjects such as Literature, US and World History, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.

  1. TOEFL:

Students who wish to study abroad in an English-speaking country are required to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam. It assesses your ability to speak and understand English by analyzing your English skills in terms of reading, speaking, listening and writing. It evaluates how well you combine these skills to perform academic tasks. TOEFL is accepted as the proof of English proficiency in 9,000 colleges, and it is conducted more than 50 times in a year by Educational Testing Service (ETS) – a US-based non-profit organization. TOEFL has two versions: TOEFL iBT (Internet-based Test) and TOEFL PBT (paper-based test). Both the versions of TOEFL test have four sections – Reading, Speaking, Listening and Writing – and take about 4 hours to complete. Students can retake the TOEFL test as many times as they wish. The test uses, both, human raters and automated scoring methods for evaluating a student’s performance.

  1. IELTS:

The International English language testing system (IELTS) is a popular English language proficiency test for higher education and global migration. Its objective is to assess the ability and preparedness of students who wish to study or train in a foreign country. IELTS assesses the test-takers’ English skills with respect to reading, writing, listening and speaking. It is accepted by over 9,000 organizations worldwide, including schools, universities, immigration authorities and professional bodies.

The two versions of IELTS are the Academic IELTS and the General Training IELTS. The Academic IELTS is usually for people who wish to study abroad, and the General Training IELTS is usually for people who want to follow a non-academic course or wish to immigrate. The duration of the IELTS exam is 2 hours and 45 minutes, and it consists of four sections which test the candidates’ listening, reading, writing and speaking skills.

  1. PTE:

PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English) is a computer-based English language test designed to assess the readiness and ability of non-native English speakers to participate in a university-level program which is taught in English. PTE focuses on real-life English used in academic surroundings. PTE Academic assesses one’s listening, reading, speaking and writing skills. PTE is accepted
by thousands of universities worldwide, including prestigious institutions such as Harvard Business School, INSEAD and Yale. In the three-hour test, one is tested on the following sections: writing, speaking, listening and reading. There are twenty different types of question formats, including multiple choice questions, essay writing and information interpretation.


TOEFL scores are accepted by a majority of universities in the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand. IELTS is mandatory for Indian and other non-native English speakers, especially in the Commonwealth countries. PTE is accepted by several institutions in the UK, Australia, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Ireland including Harvard, Yale and INSEAD.

While TOEFL and IELTS are more well-known, PTE is relatively new. All these tests have a few characteristics that make them unique, but they also share a few similarities. The three tests have similar sections, such as Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing, but differ when it comes to assessing one’s speaking skills, scoring and evaluation criterion and format of the writing section. Unlike IELTS and TOEFL, PTE has several innovative question formats.


GRE is another examination which Indian students must give if they wish to study in the USA or Canada. It measures the verbal, mathematical and analytical skills of the student. It is a prerequisite for gaining admission into many graduate courses, particularly for engineering and the science field, in USA. Students who wish to specialize in management courses (like MBA) must take the GMAT, which is an admission requirement for business schools in the US and UK.

To sum it up, these top international entrance exams are a standard as well as reliable mode for assessing a large number of applicants who aspire to study abroad. Therefore, students must plan in advance and prepare well in order to get high scores in these exams and gain admission into the university of their choice.

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